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Headsup: Harrison Ford Would Give James Franco’s Arm to Revamp His Career

There’s a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, and the companies are want your attention and mostly…your coin. But, you know, it’s your coin and you have to take care where you spend it. With these posts we try to take you through recent releases so you can make up your mind. If you find the info here to be of use, do us a favor and purchase stuff from Amazon through us. Especially if you were going to buy the stuff anyway. That gives us kickbacks, which help pay for things. Like the server. And coffee. And therapy. Thanks.

127 Hours Blu-Ray
Fighter Blu-Ray
Morning Glory Blu-Ray

[ad#longpost]We kick off with 127 Hours, out on Blu-Ray from Fox. The setup is pretty straightforward: a guy who likes to run about in the mountains under the dayball and all that finds himself trapped in the middle of nowhere, with no one around to help get him out of his predicament. He has to figure out a way to extricate himself…or die. The method of extrication is common knowledge but I just don’t feel the need to bring it up because that’s not the point here. And I already did it rather rudely in the title. Anyway. The point is survival and the human spirit and yes, that sounds obnoxious and lame to even say that but it works. The release here comes with a second disc for the digital copy, a commentary–from Danny Boyle, the producer and Boyle’s co-scribe, deleted scenes, a featurette about the actual event and a director/actor featurette. The film is worth catching for Franco’s performance, who has given great moments to bit parts that he’s played recently and here just blows it out. Is it worth putting on your shelf for, as I type this, $24? That’s a good question. It should be seen, so Netflix or Amazon Instant Video can take care of you there–if you decide it’s one you want to keep, though, your best bet is to go for the Blu-Ray. A bit more, but from what I can tell (we didn’t get the DVD here to compare in person), there’s more bonus bits with the hi-def variation. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Fighter was much hyped at the Oscars–and did well for itself, snagging both supporting acting statues. The setup is this: Mark Wahlberg plays a low level fighter who is hamstrung by his family, who also manages his career. His brother (Christian Bale) is a should-have-been superstar now lost to drugs and his mother (Melissa Leo) is a harpy. In a thesis waiting to happen, he also falls for a younger harpy (Amy Adams). Is it obvious I didn’t care for the film? Perhaps. Couple a sport that I care little about (boxing) with characters I care even less about (all of the above) in a situation that feels like Just Another Dysfunctional Family…and I don’t get it. Bale was great, but…not seeing what the big deal was about the film. Sorry. The Blu-Ray comes with a featurette about the real-life characters, deleted scenes and a director’s commentary. This is a combo, so it also comes with the DVD. The Blu-Ray is only $5 more than the DVD by itself, so that’s a bit of a no-brainer if you want to own it. I would advise you to Netflix or Instant Video it first to give it a spin, but if you do decide to take the plunge and plonk the coin then the Blu-Ray is definitely the way to go. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I’ve spoken before of how bad I feel for Harrison Ford. The guy is really trying to become something other than…well, Harrison Ford. Of all the actors out there, you’d think he’d be able to make the transition to roles that aren’t, you know, Indy or Indy-esque. He’s certainly exhibited plenty of range within those roles. But he didn’t break through with this one, either. It made its production budget back and that’s about it. Probably because the trailers just screamed rental. Anyway, the shot is this: Rachel McAdams is the newest producer to hit a morning show…a show that’s dying. She has to contend with hosts that don’t get along on top of everything else and the fact that, well, it’s a morning show. I’m not sure anyone worth knowing likes those things. Frothy cute hijinks ensue. This Paramount Blu-Ray release doesn’t have a great deal to commend itself with: there’s a director and writer commentary plus a deleted scene. If you are going to own this, then I’m not sure even about the extra $5 for the Blu-Ray versus the DVD because this movie while looking good in hi-def just doesn’t scream for it, you know? There are very few low calorie comedies that warrant it. Sample it first via Netflix or Amazon Instant Video and then if you must, go ahead and grab a version. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

All-Star Superman Blu-Ray
Due Date Blu-Ray
Timmy Time: Timmy Steals the Show DVD

I realize this is going to put me into the minority, but I’ve been there before and so be it: I couldn’t stand the comic book version of All-Star Superman. Grant Morrison, before he went round the bend, was one of my favorite writers. He brought the Justice League back to life (so DC could ruin it again eventually, of course) and provided my favorite story arc in that team’s history. He gave us The Invisibles, which is like the Robert Anton Wilson spy novel we never got. But then he went a little daft and full of himself and started putting out drivel. This is my opinion, granted, and as always, I encourage you to go out and form the same opinion on your own. That being said, if you dug the comic, you’ll love the Blu-Ray release because it’s about as close an adaptation as you could do in a feature film format, instead of just going ahead and making a mini-series out of it. The thing I find most impressive is that they were able to bring Quitely’s art to animation as well as they did. (Also in the minority, I’m the only person in my immediate circle who likes Quitely’s work–always on the outside, that’s me.) The Blu-Ray comes with a commentary by Morrison and Bruce Timm, plus what’s essentially a making-of for the book, another featurette discussing the book, and a pair of episodes from the Superman animated series. There’s also the DVD version plus digital copy. If you dig the comic, then this might just warrant a place on your shelf, but like most things, I encourage you to sample before you buy. (Click here to buy to rent it on instant video from Amazon; Click here to buy it on Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

Okay, and not to stay on the negative, but Due Date didn’t work for me. My full review is here and it made my Bottom 5 of the year. Granted, long gone are the days in which I catch 100+ films a year, but still. Robert Downey Jr. is Angry Guy, trying to make it cross country. Zach Galifianakis is Space Cadet Guy, basically playing almost the same character from far funnier The Hangover. Put the two in a car, and make them try not to kill each other as they drive. That’s…pretty much all you need to and all that went into the plot of the film. The Blu-Ray release, while good on the video and audio side, is not crying out for hi-def anyway. It does come with DVD and Blu-Ray plus digital copy for $24.99 (as I write this), which seems a bit much. This especially when you consider that the bonus bits are sparse: a short gag reel, more of the Two and a Half Men bit from the film (who knew that was going to get really timely?), more scenes and compilations of bits from the film. The latter are pure filler. If you want to check it out, I recommend doing so via Netflix or Amazon Instant Video and then if you think it’s something you’re going to want on your shelf, then proceed by all means. (Click here to buy it on Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

So now we have a spinoff of a spinoff and more power to Aardman. It’s Timmy Time, the spinoff from Shaun the Sheep, which came from Wallace and Gromit. The difference here is that Timmy is geared towards very very young audiences and is one of those Lesson Teaching programs which manages to do so with no dialogue. It’s Aardman, so the story and character designs are all quality and when they want to go cute they go Cute as Hell. Are adults going to be drawn to this? Probably not. Well, unless they are unarmed by cuteness or have a tendency to squee. This release comes with five episodes and a sing-along bonus bit. It’s also smartly priced at $10.99, which, as anyone who’s ever dealt with small children can attest to, is a small amount to pay if the kids will be quiet and watch and give you a minute to drink some coffee or something. Try it out with your kids before you take the plunge, but again, if it works for your little kids, then it works. Case closed. This is out from Lionsgate and Hit Entertainment. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Midsomer Murders Set 17 DVD
New Tricks Season 3 DVD

Well, you know we have people around here who dig on Midsomer Murders, so any time a new set arrives from Acorn Media, it’s cause for celebration. The series that’s famous for wanting to scale back the amount of homicide to be more realistic…only to get complaints from viewers. This collects four episodes from the twelfth series, which originally aired in 2009. One of the episodes, “Secrets and Spies,” guest stars both Alice Krige and Peter Davison. One might get some pause from the price–it’s $37.99 which is pricey, but bear in mind these are feature-length episodes, so you’re not being terribly shortchanged. And much like something like Law & Order, you don’t need to watch them in order, so even this far into the series, you can jump in here if you wish. The only bonus bits are some cast interviews. So the question comes down to replay factor–some people I know can watch these once and be good and others can go back to mysteries multiple times and have fun with each viewing. So I leave that to the viewer to decide. You can always select an episode from Amazon Instant Video to sample, if you wish, before you take the full plunge. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

New Tricks hits with its third season on DVD from Acorn Media, and I’m sort of surprised, given its success over there, that it hasn’t been remade over here yet. The setup is fairly simple: three retired cops get brought in by a superintendent to go through cold cases and get them solved. Seems the perfect opportunity to get a strong female lead and three somewhat older excellent actors. But we’ve got the original, so for the time being, we’re fine. Eight episodes appear across three discs, plus a behind the scenes featurette. At $30.99 as I type this, it’s around $4 an episode, which is about standard for shows of this type. Again, like with Midsomer, the question comes down to replay factor, since the show is worth checking out for people who have tapped out domestic cop shows and want something different. You can check some out via Netflix and decide if you want it on your shelf for good. (Click here to buy it on DVD from Amazon.)

Fresh Fields Set 1 DVD
Megamind Blu-Ray
Wild Rovers DVD

Acorn Media continues to bring British television over here with the first set of Fresh Fields. Twelve episodes across two discs, it’s the first two seasons of the show. The situation is thus: Mrs. Fields is constantly looking for something new to do with herself, and this provides no end to the challenges to the peace of mind of her accountant husband. Mrs. Fields is portrayed by Julia McKenzie (the most recent iteration of Miss Marple) and Mr. Fields is Anton Rodgers (many roles, though perhaps seen most on this side of the pond as the inspector in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). Fans of British sitcoms will want to check it out, perhaps via Netflix or the like, before purchasing. There are no bonus bits to speak of, and the price point for episode (as I type this) is a bit over $3, so it’s not too bad if you decide later on to take the plunge and have this for ready re-watching. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

One of the great things about Pixar is that they’re making everybody up their game. That’s the case with DreamWorks, who are making much more entertaining films than they used to. Case in point is Megamind, which makes a super-villain its lead, goes to a couple of dark places, and manages to keep the laughs coming. It’s just a solid film. It might just be one of my favorite Will Ferrell films, to be honest. The Blu-Ray combo pack here comes with the DVD as well, so you’ve got the best of both worlds. It makes sense to grab the hi-def variation anyway, due to the amount of bonus bits on here. There’s a commentary with the director and scribes and a picture-in-picture accompanying series of storyboards and interviews called “The Animator’s Corner.” You also get a new short called “The Button of Doom,” a trivia track, an interactive comic creator, photo galleries, cast featurette, deleted scene and more. There is some rewatch factor that comes along with a good animated film, and at $21.99 (as I type this–only $7 more than the DVD) it’s not terrible to have to snag it. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Wild Rovers is a rarity for me: a Blake Edwards film I had honestly never heard of before. And that’s with the cast of William Holden, Ryan O’Neal, Karl Malden, Joe Don Baker and Tom Skerritt. It’s the twilight of the cowboy and Holden and O’Neal ask themselves the question that we often ask ourselves around here: “Why not just rob a bank?” Of course, we don’t actually go through with it (not that you can prove, anyway)…but they do and then light out for Mexico. This is out from the Warner Archive, so this is probably the best Region 1 official release you’re going to get on DVD–and it’s worth checking out for people who enjoy that cast, enjoy the work of Edwards, or enjoy a decent western. Definitely give it a watch before purchasing to check for the replay factor. (Click here to buy it from the Warner Archive.)